Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There and Back Again—A Holiday Tale of Online Shopping

Oh, the joys of online purchasing for gift giving. I ordered an item of clothing. It came in the mail in the wrong size. I checked the order form, and it was their mistake—not mine. I called, and they were very accommodating. They put the correct size in the mail that day, and I mailed them back the wrong size. They refunded my money for my return shipping and didn't charge me for the second shipping. The item of clothing was here a week before Christmas. Happy story!

Today I came home to a package on my doorstep. They mailed me the correct size again. A second time. I called, and the person in charge of making decisions wasn't there, so they are going to call me back. I wonder if they'll just say enough is enough, and I'll end up with two, or if they want me to mail it back and then refund the shipping again. Haha. Oh joy. Another trip to the post office.

I'm just glad I didn't procrastinate, so that the gift was here before Christmas despite the fumbles along the way!

Anyone else have any tales of holiday shopping or shipping they'd like to share?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010—Wisconsin

Hallie & Jill show their enthusiasm
for their cold weather-gear.
For Christmas this year, my family was blessed to travel to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, to celebrate the holiday with some of my extended family. The vacation had been planned for over a year, and we had originally hoped that all of my siblings and their families would make it.

Well, as you may have read in my parents' family letter below, 2010 was a year of many surprises, so it did not work out for my two brothers and their families to join us. That was disappointing, but to use up some of the space we already had reserved at the resort (and because we love them!) we were able to invite my grandma Boling and grandpa Homer to join us.

I had never been to Wisconsin Dells before, but it was beautiful, and it snowed every single day we were there. I do not know if I have ever before tried to walk in snow that deep. (I don't know specifically how deep it was, but it was up to my knees.)

An unexpected perk to Jill not being potty trained is that she never said "I have to go potty" after being bundled into all of her cold weather layers.

Jeff, Jill, and I were able to be there for the full week, and it was chock full of activities. We enjoyed finger painting, crafts, bubble baths in the jacuzzi, a horse drawn wagon ride, and the kiddie pool.

Jeff also got to try skiing for the first time. My dad had been trying to think of a way to get Jeff on skis, but neither Jeff nor I thought he could possibly be successful. In the end though, my dad proved to be very tricky. He scheduled a ski lesson for Jeff and allowed Jeff to believe that it had already been paid for. Never one to waste money, Jeff tried it out and enjoyed it. It is not going to turn into anything to rival his passion for golf or basketball, but he had fun and even carried Jill in his arms for half of the bunny slope, so you could say Jill has had a taste of skiing now as well.

Devin, Amy, and Dad also skiied. Dad takes the cake for never falling once. Amy may or may not have done a bit of crying, and Devin gave Hallie her first taste of skiing by putting Hallie's little feet on his skis and also going down half of the bunny slope.

Last week, I was thirty-three weeks pregnant, and it seemed smart for me to not ski. I would have loved to though. I haven't done so in three or four years.

We decided not to tube, since none of the toddlers/babies met the height requirement, but Hallie and Jill did have some fun playing in the snow. Watch a video of Hallie sledding or Jill going down a snow slide by clicking either of those links.

Here is one activity a pregnant woman can still do!
Although I was very grateful to have the help of my mother when it was time to get all of us out and dry.
Since her marriage, my sister and her husband have had annual gingerbread house parties. I have never been able to participate in one, and I guess I technically still haven't. (They were out of ginger, molasses, and brown sugar, so Devin improvised and made cocoa bread houses. He's so fancy.) Almost all of us participated and made some pretty tasty looking homes.

Jill did manage to stick some candies onto the house, but admittedly she got the most enjoyment out of eating the architectural details. I may have sneaked a few as well. ;)

One of the fun surprises Christmas morning was homemade tutus for all of the girls made by their amazing Aunt Rachel. If you can't view the video where you're reading this post, then click this link.

One highlight of the trip was attending the Christmas Eve service at a local United Methodist Church.  We were able to sing many of my favorite hymns and hear lots of the Christmas scriptures. I really enjoyed singing "Silent Night" while the lights were dimmed, and we all held lit candles. (The candles were not as much fun prior to being lit, when Jill and Hanna really wanted to hold/eat them.)

We made it home safely yesterday evening and were able to enjoy dinner with Jeff's family. His brother Jason and Jason's wife Amy are in town for the rest of the week. (They live in Utah.) His brother Ryan's girlfriend Cyanne (from California) is also here for the next two weeks, so we really have everyone here. We feel pretty blessed to be able to see so much family this winter.

The cousins in the cute outfits Gigi gave them for Christmas.
Sadly, the first day back has not been quite as wonderful as the first evening back. I have managed to knock over an entire glass of chocolate milk and dump a seven-pound container of laundry detergent powder on my carpet. Jill has pooped through two outfits already, and we are both sick. (Thank goodness Jeff isn't, too!)

A not-so-nice welcome home was the discovery that our disposal is somehow draining into our dishwasher.

I also have brilliantly gone through four cycles in the washer, even though I only had three loads of laundry to do. (Yes, I forgot to put the clothes in. Yay for wasting water.) :(

I wonder what other "disasters" await me today when I get up from this computer.

That said, I am entirely unpacked from last week, so that's not too bad for a forgetful, clumsy pregnant woman, right? I also tackled 83 e-mails and 9 voice messages after a week of no internet or cell phone coverage. (I am sure I would have had coverage in the city. Our villa was just up in the mountains.)

Here are some more pictures of last week's fun.

Grandpa Homer (Jill's Poppy), Hanna, Hallie, Grandma Boling (Jill's Gigi), and Jill
Hanna LOVED her uncle Jeff.
I'm not sure what Hallie is doing to Hanna, but it is funny.
I wonder how long it will be before Jill stops saying "Hallie?" and "Hanna?" and looking around for her cousins. I wonder when Jill will get to spend time with her other cousins, so she can know them well, too.

This vacation was made possible by my wonderful parents. Thank you!!
My mom and dad, or Jill's Pappy and GranB
Oh yes, and worth mentioning was that I got to be the activities and meal planner this vacation. I was really excited to take on such a big challenge, and I feel like I was, for the most part, successful. I am still in shock at how large the grocery bill was, but it was definitely way less expensive than eating out every meal would have been. And it was a lot of fun to cook together in the small kitchen. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter

Unfortunately, I do not have the money or memory to mail our Christmas letter to everyone who should receive it, so here it is for all to see. For anyone who knows my family as well, I've included my parents' letter, too.

If you're viewing this post on my blog, you should be able to click on the image to view a larger size. If you are not on my blog, haha, go there now! :) This is the link.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season filled with good will, charity, peace, and time with loved ones.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poll Closed and Pregnancy Comparisons

The poll is officially closed, and the results are in. I will post them here, because I am going to delete the poll from my sidebar.

Which is more disgusting: to eat almonds that your toddler has chewed or to wipe the partially eaten almonds in the armpit of your daughter's sweater?

  • 8 votes: They're both gross.
  • 8 votes: Definitely to eat it!
  • 5 votes: Definitely to wipe it!
  • 2 votes: Neither is gross.

Which reaction was whose?

  • 11 votes: Mimi ate, and Jeff wiped.
  • 7 votes: Jeff ate, and Mimi wiped.

Well, well. I wish I could see who voted what, because I have a feeling that mothers, fathers, and nonparents might view this situation differently.

I ate the chewed almonds, and Jeff wiped it on her clothes. I must mention something here for the 16 people who think my reaction was gross: The almonds were not partially digested or thrown up; they were simply spit out. We had nowhere to put them (no wipes, no tissues, no paper, etc.), and we could not leave where we were, so I ate them. I eat a lot of things she doesn't eat. Hehe In my mind, that's just what moms do. Wouldn't want to waste food. :)

Jeff obviously disagrees with the eating and thinks that's gross. He wiped it on her clothes and thought it was a very good option. And since I do the laundry, I did not think that was a good option, nor did I relish the thought of possibly having others get the almonds on them when they picked Jill up later that day.

Really though, we both think it is a funny demonstration in our differences. Thank you for adding to our enjoyment by voting and sharing your opinions.

And now for the pregnancy comparison. In a previous post, I included a picture of how the pregnancy of Daniel Wells is progressing. A friend on facebook asked if I had one comparing this pregnancy with Jill's. So, I made one comparing just the seventh month of both.

I hadn't compared them visually before, but I had compared them mentally, and that has made me a little . . . sad? anxious? apprehensive?

I was weighed in at the doctor's office this week, and my weight was 161 pounds. I was reading my journal later this week and read that my weight when Jill was born was 162 pounds. ONLY ONE POUND DIFFERENT. This concerns me. I still have nine weeks left to this pregnancy! I tried to think of various reasons.

1. I could just be fatter this time round.
However, if you'll remember my difficult summer of the first trimester and the flu, you will remember that I lost about twenty pounds, so I definitely started this pregnancy skinnier than I began Jill's pregnancy. Also, I did not work out at all during Jill's pregnancy. The extent of my exercise was walking to and from work a few times a week, which was . . . I don't know how far, but it never raised my heart rate or anything. This pregnancy though I have been working out daily (with the exception of being sick this week and Thanksgiving weekend) since the middle of October. Lots of working out. One mile on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 40 to 50 minutes of Zumba on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So, I'm exercising way more, so I shouldn't be fatter. I have no idea whether I am eating less healthily, but I don't really eat very poorly in general, so I would be surprised if I were.

2. Daniel Wells could already be a bigger baby than Jill Halley was.
That somewhat terrifies me. Jill's delivery was not ideal. Forceps were used, and I tore quite a bit. She was only 6 pounds 11 ounces. I don't really want to think about delivering a baby larger than her. I don't think I have room! I have heard that since it is the second time, my body might be better at making room for a baby, so I pray that will be the case with me. I have had many friends survive Cesarean sections; Maybe I'll end up with one of those if Daniel Wells keeps growing. My mom had three, so I can't really complain if I end up having a C-section. Some of my friends even prefer them (the scheduled kind—not the emergency kind).

Part of me wonders if Daniel Wells just grew faster earlier, and I won't gain much weight in these last two months, but from what I've read the baby usually grows the most during these months. Some even gain a pound a week near the very end.

So, I'm not really a fan of either reason why this pregnancy weighs in two months ahead of my previous pregnancy. I am, however, incredibly grateful to be pregnant. I can't help but think about my miscarriage earlier this year and how I would already be holding a baby in my arms if that baby had stayed inside of me.

I am also very grateful to live in this country and time where mortality rates for mothers and babies are so incredibly low. After dealing with severe pre-eclampsia with Jill's delivery, I am very, very grateful for the access we had to doctors and nurses who knew what to do, as well as equipment and medicine that kept Jill and I doing well.

What a blessing to be pregnant. What a blessing to have insurance. What a blessing to have medical care.

(One a side note: Does anyone else think that mortality should stand for the number of lives rather than the number of deaths? I always feel like I am using that word incorrectly, but I just looked it up, and I am not.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yeah, more pictures

So . . . I know. I have posted a lot recently, but there are lots of cute pictures to share!!

To show you that Jill does like Christmas and her Christmas dress, here is proof of a smiling, happy Jill. Apparently it is just Santa that she is a bit afraid of. We'll have to practice for next year. Although that will be a little difficult, because we don't know many men with long snowy white beards.

She loves the Christmas tree. She has broken two Christmas ornaments so far. One was a beautiful angel made of salt crystals formed from the Great Salt Lake. I was a little sad to see that one break, but she didn't do it on purpose. She was trying to get it off the tree, but it was too high for her to really remove, so she was just tugging on it. (I had meant for it to be too high for her to reach period. Sigh.) So, she's a strong tugger, and it snapped at the waist.

The second ornament was at her grandma Collett's house. She dropped an ornament on the kitchen floor, and it shattered. 

We had quite a display of Christmas ornament breaking this evening. Fifteen month old Santiago crushed one IN HIS HANDS. Impressive, yes? I am glad he did not cut himself.

The cats have been really good about the tree. However, Cosmo did almost strangle himself in the lights once, but they have never tried to climb it still and they mostly leave it alone.

Here is a picture with all of us. I love the faces Jill makes these days!! Jeff is holding her, but I think in the picture it almost looks like she is sitting on my belly and propping herself up with her arm on my shoulder. That would have been painful, so I am glad that is not what is really happening.

We are getting a lot of votes on our poll—thank you! I will reveal in a few days which reaction was whose.

Let's see . . . I only have six Christmas presents left. One of Jeff's brothers is proving difficult. I am almost done making Emily's, and I need to make Rachel's, Mindee's, Poppa's, and Gigi's presents still. It feels really good to be so close to done! Now I just need to make sure to make them. :)

I am getting excited for our Wisconsin trip. I wish more of my family could have made it, but I hope to see the rest this summer perhaps if Pete and Mindee can make it to Michigan. We'll see.

My mom said I could plan the menu for Wisconsin, and I don't have official permission for being activities director, but I'm assuming no one will fight me for that position, so I am having a lot of fun thinking of things for us to do. Well, fun for my family. :) They may not be fun for yours!! 

Wow, I don't know how my blog looks on your screen, but on mine the three funs I typed above are all stacked on top of each other. My text design teacher would have docked me for that!

What else . . . Oh yes. Laurie made a Christmas booklet for all of her boys back in 2003 that has a scripture, Christmas song, and Christmas story for every day in December. I've been reading that every evening before I go to bed and am really enjoying it. This truly is a wonderful time of year when people do such nice things for each other.

Okay, I'll end this post with a picture, well three pictures, of Daniel Wells making my belly look bigger!

The Difference of a Year

Oh, the joys of Christmas.

She loved reading about Santa and seeing our Santa ornaments. The love seemed to end when he reached down to pick her up. I'm even pretty positive that it is the same Santa both years, because we had the mall Santa at our church party last year.

I love Santa's face in this one. "Oh. Sigh. Another crying baby. Why?" :) Poor Santa. He was really nice.

Sorry for torturing you Jill, but I think you will find this funny in the future. I hope. Because it isn't cute! All it has going for it is funny. Isn't her dress lovely though? Thanks, Laurie!

And please know that Laurie bought the CD copy of the picture, so I am not breaking any rules by posting a picture a photographer took. :) I respect photographers' rights to their work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snowy Weekend

We had a nice, snowy weekend. We stayed home a lot more than we had planned :( but that was probably wise, because when we did venture out, the other drivers were not being very smart. Example: We're driving home from Jeff's parents' house, sitting at a stoplight waiting for a green arrow. Jeff is looking at something, so he doesn't notice our light turn green. I'm about to tell him it is green when a car drives (slides?) right in front of us through its completely red light. If Jeff hadn't been looking at something else, we would have been completely sideswiped by that car, and it was not going terribly slow. Wow. And about five minutes before that stoplight incident, we saw another car in a ditch next to the road we were on.  We had another occasion of where we were driving down a street and a smaller connecting road had someone approach the stop sign way too quickly, and they almost weren't able to stop in time before sliding into our bigger road that did not have a stop sign. Sigh. Scary. I'm glad Jeff was driving.

Snow can be fun, too, though!

Jill enjoyed eating the snow as well. Fresh fallen snow—yum!

We also had the privilege of attending the wedding of our friends Amelia and Fernando on Friday evening. It has been quite a fall for weddings! This was my fifth!

Jeff and I have a poll going right now. If you are viewing this post on my blog, then you can see it in the top right column. If you are not viewing this on my blog (for example, if are you viewing it in your e-mail, Google Reader, or facebook), then please click this link if you would like to go to my blog and vote. Jeff and I would really like you to vote. :) We both think our reactions are pretty funny.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Inspiring Story & A Worthy Cause

If you don't mind crying, or having your heart touched, and would like to hear/see an inspiring story of a community coming together to give a little boy one last Christmas, then click on this link to watch the home videos, hear the beautiful song Matthew West wrote about the experience, and learn how you can donate money to St. Jude's hospital in honor of their cause.

Click this link.

And make sure to hug your loved ones whenever you can. This life is such a fragile gift. We never know when it will end.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jill & Amish Quotations

Jill has been saying something for the past few weeks that I think is really cute but slightly ambiguous.

Jeff always asks, "Jill, do you love me?" And she always replies, "no." (Very disappointing after all of his sacrifices. Haha.)

So, I have started saying this to her every time I buckle her into her car seat:

"Mama loves Jill. Jill loves Mama. Daddy loves Jill, and Jill loves Daddy."

My plan is that if I tell her enough times that she loves us, she'll start thinking she loves us. Ha.

However, for the past two or three weeks, I haven't been able to get through my whole discourse. Because now when I say "Mama loves Jill." She quickly says, "And Daddy."

So . . . is she saying Mama loves Jill and Daddy? (That is what she is technically, grammatically saying if she is finishing my sentence.) Or is she saying that she knows Daddy loves her, too? I don't know. I have asked her which she meant, but she's mum on the subject. One year olds . . .

Or is she just tired of my routine, so she is trying to hurry me through it? Ha.

Her newest word is "milk." It's not 100% clear, but the "k" is very well enunciated at the finish.

Oh! And this morning we had a new development that I loved! Instead of hearing crying in the baby monitor when she awoke, I heard "Mommy, Mommy." Awww melt my heart!!

And now something interesting. (Well, to me the Jill stuff was interesting, but you know what I mean. Interesting and not family related.)

One of my friends just read Amish Proverbs by Suzanne Fisher and shared what some of her favorite proverbs from the book were. Here are some of those.

Anger makes your mouth work faster than your mind.
Oh my word. That describes pretty much 75% of all the things I wish I hadn't ever said. Sigh. Although, my mouth often seems to work faster than my mind, regardless of whether I'm angry or not.

A man is happier to be sometimes cheated than to never trust.
I don't really have a whole lot of life experience with that, but I completely agree with it personally. I hope I never have reason to lose my trust in mankind as a whole.

Nothing is quite so annoying as to have someone go right on talking when you are interrupting.
This one I just had to laugh at. I have a horrible habit of interrupting people, and I have had way too many of the awkward you-thought-someone-was-done-so-you-started-talking moments. Sigh. So, I know that interrupting is terribly rude, but I still get ahead of myself and do it sometimes, so this one made me laugh.

And then here is a saying my dad shared with us over Thanksgiving weekend (I'm assuming it is not Amish), "No husband was ever shot while doing the dishes." ;)

Have you heard any good proverbs/quotes recently that you'd like to share? They don't have to be Amish. Anything goes!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almost December

For Thanksgiving, Jeff and I were pleased to have my parents and grandfather visit for the four day weekend. I am really grateful that my in-laws and parents get along so well. It makes for a lot of fun times for Jill, having both of her grandparents together.

As you can see, Jill was very helpful during the weekend. Many great tasks were accomplished: the gutters were cleaned, Christmas lights were put up, baby clothes were organized, crafts were begun, tasty food was cooked, etc.

One accomplishment that visitors to my home will appreciate is that the second bathroom door latches now! So no longer can Jill or the cats open it merely by pushing. (Although Jill has opened doors twice all by herself. She seems to have just gotten lucky though, because she has not repeated the performances since. However, she had to turn the knob and pull—not push—so we were all pretty impressed when it happened.)

Sorry Dad for cutting your head off in this picture, and thank you very much for everything you did! My mom did many wonderful things too, like make my sink sparkle, but I did not take any pictures of those.

Thank you, Mom and Dad!

And please don't think we make our guests work for their stay! My parents just really enjoy helping. :) And Jill enjoys helping their helping. ;)

Jill really loves the Christmas tree. She removes the ornaments constantly, and she carries the Christmas presents all over the house. She has not tried to open any of them yet; we'll see how long that lasts. The cats have not opened any yet either, nor have they attempted to climb the tree. It probably isn't as interesting to them to climb since it is a fake tree. They only attack the tree if one of us has recently touched it and made it move around.

The first Christmas tree picture affords a good view of my growing belly. I hit the 30 week mark yesterday, so I'm 2/3 complete! I still am exercising (much to my surprise) and feeling great (not to my surprise). The only real difficulty I'm experiencing is sleeping. Oh well. Soon I'll be so exhausted that it won't be hard to fall asleep. ;)

It really does feel like December now. It rained almost the entire day today, but as I just went out to put some trash and recycling in their respective bins/containers, it had turned to snow. I don't think anything will stick, because it is just barely falling, but a few got stuck in my hair nonetheless and made me feel very excited for Christmas.

Speaking of my hair, it was starting to look scraggly (in my opinion), but I am not tired of long hair yet, so I was debating what to do. Last week, I had a whole half foot of hair cut off, but basically no one noticed, so I am contented that my hair is still long (because I think friends would have commented if it looked short) and it is no longer scraggly. Yay for healthy looking hair.

That pretty much brings you up to date on all of our ever-so-exciting activities. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to think of many things for which you are grateful!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Jill

 Our little ray of sunshine!

Our little . . . underwear model?!

While I was downstairs folding laundry, Jill was exploring in her sock/underwear drawer. She is not potty trained yet, but we purchased two packs of undies to be prepared for when that day comes. When she came around the corner, I first wondered where she had found some bandannas. Then I realized she did not have bandannas around her neck but panties! I ran for the camera, and she was nice enough to pose for me.

Jill has recently started saying her name, which I am very pleased about. I don't know how long it will be until she has the last name down, but I feel somehow comforted by the fact that she can tell someone her name. And yes, she is stinkin' cute in pigtails.

If you are viewing this post in your e-mail inbox, the video may show up at the very bottom and if not, then simply click this link to view it in youtube. If you are viewing this post as a facebook note, then you can watch the video by clicking this link.

Jill Says "Jill"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marriage . . . Obsolete?

Have any of you read the USA Today coverage of a recent Pew Survey or any of the articles commenting on that original article?

The study of 2,600+ Americans found that four out of ten of us believe that marriage is obsolete. The article also used recent US Census data to include more interesting information. The most likely people in America to get married are white college graduates, and the median age for those who do marry (all of them, not just the white college graduates) is the highest it has ever been: about 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. And for the first time in more than a century, there are more unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 than married people.

Interesting, yes?

I am now going to talk about what that made me think of and my own personal life experiences, because those are really the only things of which I have in-depth knowledge. So, please do not think I am making blanket statements for anyone other than myself. I am not attempting to comment on the marriage or divorce of anyone else or compare my marriage to any other. Selfishly, this is just all about me. :) Hey! It's my blog. ;)

I am 25, pregnant with my second child, and was married at the age of 20. I am white and a college graduate. (Although I did get married while I was still working on my degree.) I feel very blessed to be in my situation.

I did not live with my spouse before marriage and actually knew him for less than a year before getting married. However, neither he nor I entered into our marriage lightly, for we actually believe that we are not married "until a divorce" or "until death do us part." We believe we will be married forever. FOREVER. That's an unfathomably long time, so we'd better work hard to get along. And we do. (Although it is usually not that hard. Thank goodness!) ;) We both agree that there is no priority in our daily lives more important than each other. Hobbies, interests, activities, habits—all would be sacrificed for the survival of our marriage. (We made sure we shared the same values before we got married, so no worries with sacrifice there.)

 In April, we will have been married for five years, and we have both changed with time, but we have made a commitment to stick together, and we have changed together. In small ways, I become slightly more like him and he becomes slightly more like me, and I am truly excited for the future when we're great-grandparents and we'll, at times, simply sit in rocking chairs, hold hands, and smile.

Nothing could ever entice me to give up the security of unconditional love and the fulfillment of raising children. If you had "good," emotionally healthy parents, imagine how your mom and dad felt about you, and then imagine that you picked someone who feels that exact same way about you, but he's not your parent—he's your spouse! It's wonderful.

Is he perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. But we both try, and that's what matters. I honestly think that love is not the most important aspect of a marriage. It is certainly a necessity on the list, but the most important aspects of a lasting marriage are commitment and unselfishness.

Okay, so that was my tangent about myself. Now on to the part where I talk about what the article made me think.

And, in some ways, I believe that is why marriage is "falling out of favor" with Americans. I believe there is a huge trend for selfishness and convenience in our society. We are taught that "you just have to do what is best for yourself" or "if it's not working, try something new." When was the last time you had a belonging repaired instead of putting it in the trash and buying a new version? Did you use your television until it broke, or did you use it until you decided it was worth it to buy one that was bigger, flatter, sharper?

The beauty of marriage can be that you don't have to do what is best for yourself, because that is what your spouse is doing. And your spouse doesn't have to do what is best for him or herself, because that is what you should be doing.

Americans view so many parts of their lives with the mentalities of replacement-rather-than-repair and selfishness, that I am not surprised that it has slipped into our view of marriage as well. (Again, I am not speaking for 100% of the population.)

So, in a way, I think the lower marriage numbers (and the currently minority (but increasing) view of marriage as obsolete) indicate an acknowledgment of the undesirability of divorce, a recognition that marriage is a serious commitment, and an acceptance of forms of lasting relationships other than marriage (such as cohabitation or single parenting by choice). And mostly, it seems to originate from an admittance of a disinclination toward promising to stay devoted to one person for as long as one lives. We value freedom and flexibility increasingly more than the risk of trusting ourselves and someone else.

So, please, share with me your married, single, or divorced story and your personal theories for why more and more Americans are delaying and/or avoiding marriage.

Here are two more articles that you might find interesting: Can we be married, but independent? and Dating for a decade? And if you don't want to scroll up, here is the original article link again: Nearly 40% say marriage is becoming obsolete.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If you have not heard of it before, CEDAW stands for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. "The Convention defines discrimination against women as ' . . . any distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.'" —United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

That sounds pretty good. It sounds like something that everyone should be behind. Right? It was created in 1979, and the United States is one of the few countries that still has not ratified it. The last time it came in front of the Senate was 2002, and many people believe it will come up in front of the Senate when the lame-duck session opens this Thursday (tomorrow). Only two-thirds of the Senate need to be pro-CEDAW for it to be ratified into US law.

So, why do I care? Well, while the language of the convention initially sounds great, there may be some very controversial issues lurking behind its nice words.

Here are some clips from some of the articles I have read in trying to figure out the freedoms at stake.

"We can already see the damage that ratifying CEDAW could cause the US simply by looking at the way the UN is treating those countries that have already ratified CEDAW. Among other things, these countries have been pressured by the UN to legalize prostitution, eliminate Mother's Day observances, put more children in day care, and liberalize their abortion laws." —Family Watch International

"A UN panel last week lambasted US human rights policy. . . . The 35 US delegates bore the fury of a periodic review in which UN member states scrutinize a country's human rights record. The process resulted in no fewer than 228 recommendations for US policy, with many urging the country to ratify a host of controversial treaties and declarations. . . . The US delegation pledged that it remained 'strongly committed' to ratifying the CEDAW women's treaty and a disabilities treaty. . . . Heated debate in the United States has swirled around the question of ratifying many of the UN human rights treaties. The CEDAW women's treaty has proven a favorite of liberals who support abortion rights but hasn't reached the Senate floor. Treaty critics warn its ratification would incorporate a radical feminist agenda, a view borne out by dozens of non-binding recommendations from the committee that oversees the treaty. A recent analysis found that the CEDAW committee has pressured at least 80 countries to legalize or liberalize abortion laws, despite the fact that the treaty is silent on abortion." —Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute

"The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the CEDAW treaty that has been used to pressure nations to legalize abortions. While the treaty is meant to promote women's rights, United Nation's agencies have used it to promote abortion. The treaty has been ratified by 186 nations worldwide . . . ." —LifeNews.com

". . . a close look at the content of the treaty shows that the Senate has been wise to resist ratification for 31 years. Though CEDAW contains many worthy declarations, its key provisions are 1970s egalitarian feminism preserved in diplomatic amber. Releasing those aged provisions into 21st-century America would be strange at best and would risk seriously compromising the privacy, well-being, and basic freedoms of Americans. . . . Under CEDAW, even private behavior—such as how couples divide household and child-care chores—is subject to government oversight and modification. The UN monitoring committee routinely censures countries like Denmark, Norway, and Iceland for failing to prevent women from taking primary care of children, a practice it deems 'discriminatory.'" —National Review Online

Do I agree that women should not be discriminated against for being women? Yes. However, I believe that I may disagree with those in favor of CEDAW as to what discrimination could be defined as. I do not believe that being a mother and housewife is discriminatory in any way. I LOVE having those roles. Motherhood is an honor.

And I do not think that ratifying CEDAW in the US would help the plight of women throughout the world. But I do believe that much needs to be done to help women in the United States and the world. I just do not believe the CEDAW is the correct way for it to be done. I am not completely ignorant (but I cannot in any way claim knowledge of everything) of the atrocities that women deal with simply for being women, but I honestly believe that CEDAW will not help prevent those atrocities. And the issue at stake here is US policy, not world policy.

So, that's my opinion, and this is my blog. You are welcome to put your own opinions on your blogs and facebook notes. If you do disagree, I am interested in your opinion, so please place a link in a comment. (And of course, I am interested in the comments of those who agree as well.)

I think this is an issue that is worthy of notice. Please do your own research and thinking and then contact your Senators with your opinion. If you wish to send your Senators an e-mail urging them to vote against ratifying CEDAW, then you can click this link. Technically, even if you are pro-CEDAW, you could use the link to contact your Senators. You would just have to change the automatic text that it creates for you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wild Animals

Oh man. So, we have two domesticated animals—our sweet kitties, Cosmo and Chloe. We have on the occasion had an encounter or two with some wild animals. (Sounds exciting, right?) (haha) There was the turtle that we found twice in our yard or near our house. Jeff ran over it with the lawn mower, thought it was dead, tossed it across the yard, and then it started crawling away. Apparently our mower blade was set pretty high, because it didn't do anything to him. Jeff tried to make peace by offering the turtle Romaine lettuce, but the turtle was not very forgiving. He rejected the lettuce and waddled off. Jeff saw him again later, and the turtle was still holding the grudge, because he gave Jeff "a look."

Then there was the lizard. Oh joy. If you don't remember that post, feel free to click the link and reminisce. Ha. (Wow. I really thought I spelled that word incorrectly, but it didn't get highlighted by spell check, so I guess I just made my HS English teacher proud!)

And tonight, we had the pleasure of adding a new buddy to our list of wild animals.

Jeff and I are in our bedroom. I'm responding to e-mails; Jeff is checking ESPN stuff. I heard a noise coming from the kitchen. I was surprised, because it sounded like someone was squeezing a squeaky toy, so I glance over to the bed to see if Jeff really is in here with me. He was. So I assumed I imagined it. And then I realized we didn't even own any squeaky toys.

Then the cats come running in: Cosmo, growling, and Chloe had something in her mouth. Oh, I thought, she found one of the mice toys. Then I thought about it and remembered that our mice toys didn't have little feet. They just were bodies with tails. Oh my gosh! It was a real mouse. I somewhat exclaimed to Jeff that Chloe had a live mouse! I meant "live" as in "not a toy." I assumed it was dead.

The cats raced back into the kitchen, where we quickly realized that mouse was actually alive, because Chloe kept dropping it out of her mouth and batting it with her paws while it tried to run away.

We hurriedly looked for gloves and came up with my winter ones. Jeff put them on and pried the mouse out of Cosmo's jaws (the mouse had switched tormentors by this time). We checked the mouse all over but could ascertain no damage. He was so cute!! I couldn't believe how cute this little mouse was.

In the end, we let him out into the yard. He'll probably die out there, too, but I hope whatever animal gets him does not play with him (or her) as much as our cats were. If we had a small animal cage, we honestly would have been tempted to keep him. Although, I couldn't help but think of The Secret Garden and the bubonic plague, or whichever disease that was . . .

So yeah. We had a mouse living in our house. Somewhere. I wonder if he just came in today or if he has been hiding really well.

Either way, it is somewhat gratifying to know that our cats are good mousers and predators in general. I am very glad to not have the dead lizard lurking and the mouse hiding somewhere in my home.

What will we discover next?

Please, friends, don't let this discourage you from visiting. We have a very clean home, and I am sure these are relatively common occurrences for older houses. Please still visit us! :) We love visitors! (Just not the wild animal variety . . . )

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet the Kellys!

I have an awesome friend named Holly. She has an awesome husband named Sam. Together, they are the Kellys. Jeff and I met them while we were at BYU, and they were in many ways our "twin" couple. Holly and I majored in almost the same thing at BYU and graduated really close to each other. We then both worked for the same company. Sam and Jeff actually did major in the exact same field and did an internship together. Professional and educational similarities aside, we also tend to think the same things are funny and share the same values.

They are honest, intelligent, and stable. They are caring and funny. Sam loves to do little surprises to show you how much he cares about you, and Holly loves to be silly and sarcastic (definitely possible) and is fiercely loyal to those she loves.

Their hobbies include reading, writing, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland. Note: Not all of those are shared hobbies, but assuredly Sam or Holly likes it.

Sadly, Holly and Sam have not been able to have children of their own. They have been married for about five years now and would really love to increase their family size.

They have waited through trying to conceive. They have waited through going to fertility doctors and learning why it is not happening. They have waited through the adoption approval process. They are now approved and are waiting to be matched. This last waiting period can be sped up if a mother chooses them!

So, if you are a pregnant woman who is looking for a loving home for your future child (or if you know a pregnant woman in this situation), please give the Kellys a chance and consider them.

Click this link to view their adoption profile.

Click this link to read Holly's blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Updates and Spousal Needs

Let's see . . . life is moving forward as it should. Jill passed the 18 month mark, and it really has been amazing to watch her turn from a baby to a toddler. I really love how many more words she can say now, and it melts my heart to hear her say Mommy and Daddy.

I can no longer decide whether she is just a blonde or still a strawberry blonde. Her hair almost seems to fluctuate daily.

She recently has had trouble sleeping. She and I were up last night from 11:30 (she went to bed around 8:00) to 3:00. Sigh. I finally caved and just gave her a bottle. She was asleep within half an hour.

I would really like to potty train her before Daniel Wells makes his appearance. Do you have any tips on how you potty trained your children? How you were potty trained? How your neighbor/sister/coworker potty trained his/her kids? I would love to hear any stories you have to share. The more information the better!
Yup, there I am with my belly. I am now in the last trimester of this pregnancy, and I really find it hard to believe. I am still exercising, but it is starting to feel different than it did a month ago, even a week ago. I can really feel the difference in my joints. I don't remember what the hormone is, but I remember reading in my baby book during my first pregnancy that the ligaments start loosening up and I think that the hormone is affecting my whole body, because my ankles and knees are starting to feel really weird. I am interested to see how long I can keep it up. Right now I'm alternating between jogging/running and Zumba. Perhaps I'll switch to swimming if need be, Oh well, however long I keep it up, I figure it can only help matters. All I am hoping for is no pre-eclampsia, no forceps, and no tearing. I really don't think that is too much to hope for. 

In other pregnancy news, I can also tell I'm near the end, because bending over is that much harder and the heartburn/acid reflux has begun. Oh yay!
My handsome hubby had his birthday last week. Jill took this picture of him on his birthday. Aren't you impressed? I thought she did a great job! Despite the 70 degree weather we enjoyed today, I think the temperature peaked around 43 degrees on his actual birthday. He and his brother Kyle did not let that daunt them though—they still went out to play 18 holes of birthday golf. They were very cold when they finished.

Next week marks his first anniversary with his current company; we feel so blessed that he has this job!

Family news aside, I receive many e-mails from various groups with differing opinions. This was made obvious after election day when I received e-mails the next few days heralding the triumphs and disappointments of the day. It was funny to realize that I was on separate mailing lists for Republicans and Democrats. Well, it's good to hear both sides. I also receive e-mail newsletters about my pregnancy, toddler development, and families. In the different family newsletters, there are often articles about marriage, and the most recent one interested me. It was about avoiding or ending affairs and included this paragraph:

"In His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, Dr. Willard Harley says marriages most susceptible to infidelity are those where a spouse fails to meet their partners' primary needs. Wives' needs are affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial, and family commitment. Husbands' primary needs are sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support, and admiration."

What do you think about what is listed above as the primary needs of wives and husbands? It was interesting for me to read them laid out in such a manner and to consider what I believed my and Jeff's primary needs to be. I think it is really important to acknowledge what your needs and your spouse's needs are, so you can recognize whether you are meeting them and whether yours are being met. Anyway, if you and your spouse ever have the conversation lag anytime soon, you could bring that paragraph up and see how you agree and disagree for yourselves personally. If you have anything to share about it, please do. I am interested in your comments on it.

I'd say I definitely need everything that Dr. Harley said wives need. I am trying to think of something else I might need, but those are so general that they really seem to encompass everything I think of.

And if you're curious what my most recent pregnancy newsletter contained, among other facts it shared that Daniel Wells weighs approximately as much as a head of cauliflower. Last week, he was approximately as long as an English hothouse cucumber. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Natural Wonders

Natural Wonder 1: Fall and Cute Little Girls
It is a beautiful time of year right now. Ohio has been enjoying a long and unusually warm autumn, and I have really enjoyed it! I missed autumn when I lived in Utah. It just felt too short, and I didn't feel like I got as many colors. Granted, the mountain sides were GORGEOUS, but there weren't just trees everywhere you turned. Fall is not quite as much fun as a homeowner, haha, because raking leaves is a lot of work, but it will get done!

We all went to a pumpkin patch, and I think that Jill is the cutest one in the bunch.

Natural Wonder 2: Bee Taming
At said pumpkin patch, there were mums for sale. Massively on sale. I got a really large mum pot for only $5. The kind that at the beginning of the season are more like $25. I'm pretty excited. I need to decide where to plant them. Mums are perennial right? I'll get to enjoy these for more than a month? Either way, $5 is a steal


On the mums that I chose was a bee. If you have ever been around me and bees simultaneously, you will know that we don't mix. I am very afraid of bees. They are just so unpredictable. My husband has long told me that I should not be afraid of bees, and that bees only get feisty when you mess with them. He even had the audacity to claim that he has pet them before. Yeah right. I knew the truth—that bees are nasty, vicious, butt stinging insects that are just dying (literally) to sting you. I am not sure where my misconceptions were born, but I think that living four years in a place where killer bees existed that really are aggressive might have something to do with it.

So, my mum had a bee on it. My husband offered to make it go away, but I was hoping it might leave on its own, because part of me was afraid it might sting him. We watched it a while, and my husband said he thought it looked like a nice bee if I would just take the time to get to know it. I scoffed at the idea. My husband then PET THE BEE! After a few minutes of pep talk, I crouched down close to "get to know" the bee as well and then PET IT ALSO! (The picture is of Jeff's finger, not mine.)

 I am not sure whether my fear is cured, but I definitely took a HUGE step forward that day. It was kind of awe inspiring to be allowed to be so close to something so wild. The bee was very soft. We wonder if the pollen (?) stuck on his leg bothers him. Poor guy.

Natural Wonder 3: Kitten Behavior
Having these two kittens has been very educational. I thought I knew a lot about cats, and I know a fair amount, but cats and kittens are considerably different I have learned. My beloved cat, Mandy, was a kitten a long time ago. Last night when I was sleeping (I went to bed really early the last two nights), Chloe was cuddling with Jeff beside me. All of a sudden, Chloe popped up into the position you see in the photo below. She stayed in this position for a considerable amount of time, long enough for Jeff to get his phone out and take a picture.

After Chloe had been in her "meerkat" position for some time, Jeff heard a loud pop or bang from the other room and wondered what was going on. A bit later, Cosmo sauntered into the room proudly bearing his "kill" in his teeth to show off to Daddy and little sister. He had popped Jill's Halloween balloon. Perhaps Chloe heard him playing with it and was suspicious of the noise? We don't know. She popped up before the sound of the pop though. She got off the bed to inspect the balloon with Cosmo, and apparently they were pretty cute sniffing it as if trying to identify the foreign creature.

Have you witnessed any natural wonders recently or something you consider amazing?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Early Halloween

This one makes the cut, because Jill is wearing a Halloween outfit. Don't you love the combination of her orange, my maroon, and the train's red? haha Laurie treated us to a train ride on a train from . . . 1910? 1930? I'm not sure which decade, but let's just say the train has been around the block for a while or so. :) Jill really enjoyed it.

Rawr. I'm a scary tiger.

Jeff and I were "high school sweethearts."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How I Know . . .

I have been thinking about ways to know things. Some points of life are learned through reading or watching the lives of others. Some can only be learned through experience. Here are some I've learned recently.

How I Know . . .
  • I'm pregnant: When doing zumba at the local Y, my focus is not on getting the right moves, looking good, or trying to figure out what the songs are saying in Spanish. I am entirely focused on not losing my balance and falling over, as well as not peeing my pants. The bouncing and jumping is hard on a pregnant woman.
  • I am not fostering an abusive relationship between my pets: They will cuddle with each other. The vet said that is a sign what I view as dangerous behavior is really just kittens playing (or possibly the male kitten annoying the female kitten), but not actually a problem or dangerous.
  • Our car didn't fit where it was: My beautiful, beautiful van has a smashed tail light and some dentage due to an unfortunate experience on Saturday. We were idling along the curb, waiting for a break to pull into traffic, when a city bus smooshed us a bit while turning a corner. Sigh.
  • I married a winner: He has accepted my OCD tendencies and is willing to put his clothes away where I deem appropriate. He has adopted my system of organization. Now that's love!
  • I should probably stop buying fruit snacks: They seem to be the only food that Jill ever wants to eat. And she wants to eat them all the time. (Okay, she will deem other food worthy occasionally, but I am tired of her whining for fruit snacks.)
  • I overuse some words: I can't believe this super short post has the word deem twice.
Jill at her uncle Kyle's birthday dinner

Cosmo and Chloe
Can you believe they are only six days apart in age? Cosmo dwarfs her. He weighs twice as much as she does, and she can almost walk under him without crouching.

What have you learned recently?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Keepin' Busy

I haven't been posting much, so I decided to show some pictures of what has been keeping me busy.

My brother-in-law came home from a mission. Don't worry. He's learning quickly how to hold Jill. It's the first time they've met! (And her skirt really isn't that short; it's just hiked up in this picture. Promise!)

Jill and Uncle Ry Ry

We adopted a second kitten. We decided that Cosmo needed a playmate. Welcome: Chloe. Sadly, he seems to view her as more of a play toy instead of a playmate, and she has no fight in her. She'll growl, hiss, or run, but she does not play back. This is very disappointing for Cosmo, but he keeps trying. Much to our dismay. I can't decide whether Cosmo is being too rough (and I'm fostering an abusive relationship) or Cosmo is being a normal kitten (and Chloe is just annoyed by him). It was a rough transition initially with lots of hissing and cleaning up of messes, but now they get along great and nap somewhat side by side (provided of course that Cosmo is in cuddle mode rather than frisky mode). 
Cosmo and Chloe
This little one. She's always keeping me on the go.

We've also had lots of fun adventures recently. Jill went to the zoo for the first time. She rode a train, and she went on a river boat. She went to reading time at the library (because she really is close enough to the 18 month cut off), and she has gone to nursery (accompanied by a parent) three or four times now. Her favorite activity is watching her cousin dance through youtube videos and playing "Ring Around the Rosie." She sings all the time now, but I can't always tell what song she is singing. It's not always very close. :) The lyrics or the melody. She currently wants me to sing the "skimer-a-dink-a-dink-a-dink I love you" song. (What is that song really called?) She loves it. We also went on a road trip down to Tennessee for a wedding and got to see lots of lovely and lovable family. We're enjoying the fall weather, and my husband recently installed four new shelves for me THAT I LOVE. If you thought it was not possible to love shelves—you were wrong. (At least if you were talking about me.)

People are referring to Jill as a blonde more frequently now than as a redhead, so some change is happening there. Who knows what hair color she'll end up with.

Life is good. Oh, so very good.

And here is a picture of what is keeping me happy these days. 

Jill watching her first BYU football game with her daddy.
My sister recently posted about the song My Favorite Things. She listed hers and asked about all of ours, which made me think of mine, which is turn made me wonder about all of yours. If you're not familiar with the song (is that possible?), it lists things like "brown paper packages tied up with strings," "warm, woolen mittens," "crisp apple strudel," "girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes," etc. As I'm listing these, I just realized that her favorite things are all actually things in the song, and when listing the flip side ("when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad . . . "), those are all actions. Well, the favorite things that I came up with are all actions, too, so perhaps I cheated a bit with my list.

watching Jill splashing in puddles
cuddling with a purring cat
smelling something good cooking in my oven that I made
watching my husband clean
watching Jill dance
seeing Jill's delight when I sing to her
brightening someone's day
revisiting with old friends
finishing a satisfying book
singing my heart out
spending time with my extended family
feeling my baby move inside me

Feel free to cheat with your list, and definitely feel free to share! I am curious what makes your lips curve into a smile. :) (Perhaps that was sappy, but it's true!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

When something makes you laugh out loud . . .

. . . you should share it. Others might need a laugh, too.

I enjoy going to comics.com every and reading the most recent Get Fuzzy. Enjoy.